For a debut album Mercury is surprisingly moody and world-weary. On the one hand it's perfect music to accompany a Sunday morning, but on the other it lacks zest and energy, requiring little or no effort.
When listening to Longview, other bands come to mind immediately, for singer Rob McVey's voice has strong elements of Doves frontman Jimi Goodwin, not to mention a flavour of Elbow's Guy Garvey and Gene's Martin Rossiter. In fact, several of the songs here resemble a half-speed Caught By The River, as indeed the band are on the reverse sleeve photo.
If this sounds not too complimentary so far, this album is certainly not all bad, for while my first response to Mercury was more of a non-response, subsequent listens started to drill the tunes into my head. Current single Further is one of them, containing an impressive grandeur rarely found elsewhere, and so is I Would, a very slow but heartfelt statement held together by McVey's emotional input. Most impressive is Can't Explain, a subtle, piano-led verse leading into a powerful chorus of "hours turn to days, days turn to years."
Unfortunately, there's a cloud to each of these silver linings. When You Sleep rocks clumsily, Nowhere goes exactly where its title implies and Falling For You contains a sweetly-sung but out of place backing vocal from Sarah Shawcross. Longview tend to rely too much on the same chord progression and, as far as texture goes, Further is pretty much a blueprint for the whole album, which is a shame because the piano should have enjoyed more use.
So there are mixed feelings on this one. Whilst I'm generally underwhelmed by Longview's debut, it's easy to see how it could worm its way into the bedrooms of many an Elbow fan.
- Ben Hogwood